Players bond over memories of .... childhood pets?


Players bond over memories of .... childhood pets?

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jeff Fisher took an offbeat approach for breaking the ice when St. Louis Rams veterans and rookies met for the first time. Besides standing and reciting their names, schools, favorite movies, etc., during introductions, the new players were asked to recall the name of their first pet along with how it died. Fisher said several mentioned hamsters and turtles, while some remembered the family dog or cat getting squashed by trains or buses. "We had one whose parents just put him down that morning," Fisher said Wednesday. "You know, it was sad. No, it was good. Good introduction." Cornerback Cortland Finnegan recalled lighthearted goings on when he was a rookie playing for Fisher in Tennessee. There, he got saddled with the nickname Fido. "It's something coach Fisher always throws in there for giggles," Finnegan said. "I played the nickel and I would always run after the wrong guy." Rams rookies got hung with nicknames, too. Finnegan said one looked like Greg Oden, and another resembled Gonzo, the Muppet. There are limits to the frivolity. Players won't be asked to sing and Fisher went out of his way to emphasize there will be no hazing, no rookies taped to goal posts or the like. "They're here to help us win," he said after the team completed a second day of organized team activities. There is fresh optimism surrounding a franchise that's a sorry 15-65 the last five years. Defensive end Chris Long, the second overall pick of the 2008 draft, is playing for his fourth coach entering his fifth season and can't recall a vibe quite like this. "There's been a lot of changes since I've been here. This is by far the one I'm most excited about," Long said. "I think we're all very excited about it. It's a new beginning for a lot of people and, in the same sense, you have to re-prove yourself." Fisher does not seem worried about all those lean seasons in the recent past. "We've completely forgotten about last year," the coach said. "This is a team that's going out there to win, period. There's players that are emerging that were here. There's players that are improving. We've got an influx of talent through free agency and the draft and we're going to play hard and win games." Fisher said much of the base offense and defense have been installed. The Rams worked on situational play and the red zone Wednesday and might delve into the two-minute offense on Friday. A handful of rookies have been unable to attend. Running back Isaiah Pead, a second-round draft pick, was among four who attend schools on the quarter system and can't participate until the end of exams. Plus, Pead and two wide receivers who could get plugged into the offense immediately, second-rounder Brian Quick and fourth-rounder Chris Givens, are attending an NFL rookie premiere event in California. "It's mandated by the league that they come out there, so unfortunately they're missing some quality work," Fisher said. "It's a photo thing, and (trading) cards and those kinds of things. Really great timing." The Rams added a pair of veterans for depth, signing free agent linebacker Mario Haggan and offensive tackle Barry Richardson, and both were on the field Wednesday. Richardson started every game the last two seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs and the 32-year-old Haggan also has been strong on special teams.

Van Noy: 'I was shocked" to be traded from Lions to Patriots


Van Noy: 'I was shocked" to be traded from Lions to Patriots

FOXBORO -- It's not often that NFL teams make deals before the trade deadline. Seeing starters get dealt before the deadline is a veritable rarity. It's no wonder linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who started in all seven Lions games this season, reacted the way he did when he was dealt to the Patriots earlier this week.

"I was shocked to go from starting there to traded," Van Noy said during his first back-and-forth with Patriots reporters. "I was shocked. I respect everybody with the Detroit Lions, they'll all be my guys there. Just grateful for the opportunity to come here and get it going."

Van Noy has been working closely with Patriots linebackers and linebackers coach Brian Flores since his arrival, even getting some last-minute notes from Flores before meeting with reporters and heading out to Thursday's practice. 

The 6-foot-3, 243-pounder wasn't completely unfamiliar with the operation in New England before being sent to Foxboro along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-rounder. He admitted he had "a lot" of contact with the Patriots before being taken in the second round by Detroit.  

Now he's playing "catch-up" to learn the Patriots playbook, which could include learning multiple positions within the team's defense. He played mostly as an off-the-line linebacker in Detroit, but when he entered into the league out of BYU, he was considered to have the tools to be a productive pass-rusher as a pro. 

Van Noy, who lost about 15 pounds going into this season, indicated that the Lions didn't get the most out of him because of how he was used. 

"I mean, they didn't know where to put me," he said. "Here, they want me here, and I'm happy to be wanted." 

Van Noy was injured for much of his rookie season and had a hard time making an impact last year. He was relied upon to fill a more substantial role this season, playing in 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps. It's unclear just how Van Noy will fit in as a member of the Patriots, but he says he's willing to do whatever it takes to work his way back up another depth chart.

"I'm here now, and I'm gonna do whatever they have me [do], and whatever they want my weight to be at," he said. "Whatever they want me to do I'm gonna do it because I want to win and be part of this team."

Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?

In Episode 22 of "The Great American Hockey Show" podcast hosted by Joe Haggerty and Jimmy Murphy, we try to figure out if there is any light at the end of the tunnel for the Bruins with their goalie situation in a very bad place.

Former Bruin Aaron Ward joins Haggerty to talk about his appreciation for Claude Julien as a coach, entertains us with a great story on captain (and defensive partner) Zdeno Chara, and makes a bold statement on how good Brad Marchand has developed into as a player.

Plus, Ward has some insight to the injury goalie Tuukka Rask is dealing with, which he believes is a hamstring AND groin problem.

Ward also discusses his relationship with "Toucher & Rich" and the "Cuts for a Cause" charitable event that he helped start.

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